Travel and Booking APIs for Online Travel and Tourism Service Providers
Back in 2015, Expedia suggested that travelers make 38 website visits on average to book their trips. While this seems like a lot, for booking hotels, for instance, travelers visit only 4.4 unique websites, according to the study by Fuel and Flip.to. People prefer to make their reservations through ‘all-in-one-place’ platforms. They’ve reshaped user experience unifying and eventually simplifying it for average travelers.
One of the reasons is that travel industry players have become a lot more open to sharing data with each other. A good example to this is Uber which in 2014 allowed third-parties to incorporate the “request the ride” functionality in their applications. Today, your local sightseeing app can let users commute from one landmark to another without switching apps.
The main types of travel APIs and how they work
In tech terminology, the synonym to this growing connectivity is API. Application programming interface allows for connecting data streams and functionalities between different software products. APIs work as control panels for developers to link different software components without dealing with source code. What does this mean for the travel industry? If you run a hotel business, you can let your customers rent a car straight from your website by integrating your room reservation engine with available local car rental providers. This may put a car-rental commission in your pocket or just make your customer’s life easier by eliminating time browsing the web to rent a car.
So, let’s talk about the most important types of APIs used to unify travel industry features and information:
- Comprehensive booking and reservation coverage: GDS APIs
- Flights data: routes, airfares, delays, ratings
- Hotel room reservation APIs from OTAs and bedbanks
- Hotel rooms reservation APIs from connectivity and channel managers
- Content and property mapping
- Car rental
- Business travel
- Reviews and ratings
- Public transportation
- Things to do, tours, attractions, and restaurants
- Packaged travel, tour, and attraction APIs from channel managers
For the online travel agency (OTA), all these aspects are worth covering in the application. For local or niche travel services providers, this list may be shorter.
As Valentin Dombrovsky, Chief Alchemist at Travelabs, suggests, “API selection should be preceded by thorough analysis of competitive solutions – both from business and technical standpoints. And the first question you need to answer is: do you need an API for this specific product at all? Sometimes it’s better to start with hypothesis testing and in that case, you could use partner links or white label solutions for new products that you might want to introduce.”
GDS systems provide the widest data coverage, while you can find more task-specific APIs from niche companies
Global distribution system (GDS) APIs from Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport for comprehensive booking and reservations coverage
Main users: OTAs, Metasearch Engines
The main data source and reservation point of contact for online travel agencies are global distribution systems (GDSs). The GDS collects and consolidates travel data from a wide spectrum of service providers and allow agents to reserve airplane seats, rent cars, book hotel rooms, etc. This way travel agencies don’t have to directly connect with hundreds of airlines, hotels, and other end providers. They also provide APIs to integrate the reservation support into OTA booking engines to let travelers book online.
GDSs mostly focus on five types of reservations:
- Airplane seats
- Hotel rooms
- Car rentals
- Cruise lines and ferries
Basically, there are three main GDS players on the market: Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport. According to Sabre, these three cover 99,9 percent of the GDS market share.
GDS market shares differ across regions
As a travel agency or any other travel business, you can use one of the GDS APIs or more to achieve broader coverage. Our client, online travel agency Fareboom, which provides its customers with a low-airfare search, uses multiple GDSs and private airfares from airlines directly. However, if your business model doesn’t revolve around the lowest fares, you may stick with using only GDS, without bothering to engage airlines directly. Amadeus, for example, claims to cover 95 percent of the global scheduled air seating.
NB: It’s interesting to note that a GDS reservation capacity isn’t necessarily equal to that supported in APIs. GDSs can be operated manually by travel agents that make reservations for their clients. APIs, on the other hand, exist to automate booking, excluding any manual efforts from the agent. Sometimes a GDS would provide broader services for manual booking compared to the API-based one. We’ll mention one such limitation in a bit.
Depending on particular APIs you are going to use, you may consider their industry coverage
Amadeus has two sets of APIs. The main set, which is called Amadeus Web Services, and the second one – Travel Innovation Sandbox. We use the word “sets” because there’s no single API for all data services available. Basically, you’re free to choose the kind of data you want to operate with. For instance, meta search engines that just aggregate data require no booking functionality.
Amadeus Web Services. The main set of APIs covers seven distribution types:
- Car rentals
- Transfers (airport private or taxi transfers, which is a new feature that we discussed in the July 2017 news and trends report)
- Travel insurance booking
Every type contains multiple APIs, some of which are purely informative like finding the lowest fares or searching flexible-schedule fares. Others are made for ticket booking. This allows for greater adaptivity when configuring the set of services for your product.
Travel Innovation Sandbox. These APIs aren’t aimed at production use. The sandbox is designed for students, individuals, and early startups that are at the prototyping and experimentation stage. Sandbox APIs are about information, not booking. They allow experimentation with GDS capabilities to better configure the final product before it goes live. Sandbox also has strict limitations. Most APIs won’t allow you to make more than 5,000 calls per user per month, and some are limited to only 1,000 monthly data transactions.
Sabre APIs cover pretty much the same set of functions that Amadeus provides. Sabre divides its APIs into eight groups:
- Ground transportation (car rentals and rails)
- Trip management
- Session management
Sabre has more detailed APIs division, including such categories as profiles, trip and session management, and utilities. Note that, currently, the system doesn’t provide insurance and airport transfers options. If these are critical to you, better stick with Amadeus.
Travelport unites three GDS systems: Apollo, Worldspan, and Galileo. While the systems have their own brand names, in terms of APIs, they are combined into a single Travelport Universal API. Unlike Amadeus and Sabre, the universal API is a bundle of functions that embrace:
- Three GDSs: Apollo, Worldspan, and Galileo
- Air API connect
- Rail API connect
- Travelport rooms
- Fares and Ancillaries
Currently, Travelport doesn’t provide cruise API options for online travel agencies that want to automate sea travel booking for their customers. Cruise is only available for direct manual booking by travel agents. Along with Sabre, Travelport doesn’t include insurance and transfers into their APIs.
Currently, Amadeus provides the largest API variety
The challenge of choosing the best GDS API has been around for years. While there are technical differences that may tip the scales, market coverage also plays an important role. Common practice is to use the most popular GDS for a region as this means slightly better seating options and pricing from carriers. From this point of view, Amadeus would be the best fit for targeting Europe, while Sabre suits travel in North America.
Flights Data: Skyscanner APIs for airfares and FlightStats API for Traveler Flight Support and Disruption Management
Main users: OTAs, travel applications providers
Skyscanner APIs. GDSs send general flight data, but some providers can reach more precise fare returns than GDSs for lower cost. Skyscanner API doesn’t have subscription or query-driven payments. Instead, Skyscanner suggests its API users enroll in an affiliate program. The service then charges a commission based on your traffic and market proportion. While Skyscanner also provides car rental and hotel APIs, its strong point is flight fare search. It comes in two main versions:
Browse Flight Prices. This set ships cached prices for an aggregated variety of origin-destination and time-frame queries, meaning that you can set up a flex search using these APIs. The drawback is the cache doesn’t update frequently for less popular route and date combinations. If the prices change, sometimes your users won’t be able to see updated info.
Live Flight Prices. The live pricing API, on the other hand, returns exact fares for any given moment. But you must query the exact time and route to retrieve prices. This feature comes in handy whenever you need to compare prices for specific dates and routes.
Some OTAs and travel application providers strive to help travelers after booking is completed. For instance, the in-flight support app that we developed for Fareboom helps travelers with timely notifications before a departure, tracks flight status, and alerts about delays. To deliver such services, you have to retrieve in-depth details about flights, connections, and weather.
The most popular API for these purposes is by FlightStats, a global flight tracker and travel applications provider. FlightStats APIs combine two main products:
FlightStats Flex APIs. This set of services mainly operates with actual flight data with real-time tracking which includes:
- Flight status and track
- Historical flight status
- Schedules and connections
- Airlines and airports
- Equipment (aircraft IATA codes, name, propulsion, etc.)
- Delay Index
- Ratings (performance ratings to define which flights are more likely to be on-time between given airports)
- FIDS (flight information display systems found in airports)
FlightStats Trip Data APIs. This set focuses on improving the itinerary experience for travelers and travel agents informing them about flight disruptions. These include alerts about flights and legs, especially in cases of connection problems and delays, to enable proactive reactions to these events.
FlightStats APIs are known in the development community as well documented and coherent. They allow for deep customization to tailor travel software to specific business and UX needs.
Hotel Rooms Reservations: APIs by Largest OTAs and Bedbanks
Main users: smaller OTAs and travel application providers, property owners
There are two main players dictating the rules of the OTAs market: the Priceline group (Booking.com, Kayak, Momondo, etc.) and Expedia (Expedia.com, Hotel.com, Trivago, etc.) If you mostly look at hotel booking, it’s worth working with these two players. Not all APIs are publicly available and you’ll have to become their partner to fully leverage their capacities.
These two giants both have their partnership networks. Expedia Partner Central is aimed at hotels and Expedia Affiliate Network at online travel agencies and other travel software providers. Priceline Partner Network supports APIs for smaller travel agencies and travel applications owners.
Expedia Partner Central
Expedia Connectivity APIs are built with the idea of streamlining property updates both for hotels and ultimately Expedia end users.
Booking availability, retrieval, and notification. This set of APIs helps hotels automate booking by instantly updating property availability and sending notifications as soon as someone reserves a room through the Expedia network.
Product management. This set of APIs allows hotels to instantly send any edits and updates about room types and their configurations, onboard new properties, or add images.
Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN)
The EAN API provides access for online travel agencies that want to incorporate hotel booking support into their products. The API will allow for:
- Receiving hotel lists
- Retrieving itineraries
- Cancelling reservations
- Receiving room images and hotel info
- Defining payment types.
Expedia Public APIs
Expedia also provides a set of public APIs that mainly have informational search capacities and sometimes duplicate features available in EAN and Partner Central solutions. They aren’t high priority for most users but support additional functionality that can’t be achieved with the main products. Here are some of them:
Natural Language Hotel Search will allow your customers to look for accommodation by providing vague descriptions like “romantic hotels in Rome” or “children friendly hotels in Spain”. This one can be very useful for building travel chatbots, for instance.
Travel Trends can return answers on requests about time-dependent events. You can suggest visibility into the current popularity of flight routes or hotel rooms among travelers.
Unreal Deals searches specifically for cool packages like free flights, two free hotel nights, or room upgrades.
Additionally, there’s an affiliate program at Orbitz, which is a travel metasearch and aggregator belonging to Expedia. Their engine allows for sourcing about 260,000 bookable properties and about 400 airlines.
Priceline, on the other hand, focuses on online travel agencies only or any other travel tech suppliers that help their customer find travel related data. Currently, the Priceline API allows for retrieving and booking:
- Cars for rent
- Vacation packages
If you’re looking for the Booking.com connection to source the largest network of hotels, check the Demand API. As Priceline owns Booking.com, it’s worth considering Priceline API integration first. Another OTA owned by Priceline is Agoda. It’s also worth contacting the Agoda team separately to understand how their supply differs from what Priceline already offers.
GDSs and OTAs are seemingly enough to arm yourself with the main hotel room supply. But some experts believe that there are alternatives that shouldn’t be missed. Robert Meza, Global Head of Partnerships in travel at The Entertainer, believes that the search for hotel booking APIs shouldn’t stop at the GDS level: “To say that GDSs have the most to offer does not mean they have the best technology, supply, or availability. Many GDSs struggle with multi supply (of hotels for example) – taking into account all the caching, mapping, matching, deduping, etc.” Meza suggests focusing on bedbanks and wholesalers to source accommodation options. We’ll list the main ones below.
Hotelbeds Group APIs
Hotelbeds is one of the largest accommodation, transfers, and activities distributors. Its APIs cover more than 120 markets globally operating in about 185 countries. There are three main hotel-related APIs that Hotelbeds suggests, connecting to about 75,000 hotels worldwide.
Hotel Content API. The API returns both static and dynamic information. Static info includes hotel descriptions, pictures, addresses, etc. The dynamic part retrieves data that can be changed at any moment: availability details, prices, fees, etc.
Hotel Booking API. The API complements the previous one enabling all aspects of booking procedure, from requesting room availability to receiving booking lists and making cancellations.
Cache API. This API is aimed at providing massive amounts of data for travel packages or flex room searches. Thus, the API returns a specific snapshot of data captured at a given moment.
JacTravel is another large hotel booking distributor that provides access to rooms in 92 countries and partners with about 18,000 hotel and travel providers. While they don’t have openly available API documentation to evaluate, the general offering entails:
- 50,000 room availability
- Both live and cached data retrieval
- Hotel info returns with photos and descriptions in four languages (English, German, Spanish, and French)
- High speed API response
Bonotel is a niche wholesale distributor that is solely targeted at luxury and boutique hotel rooms. Currently, Bonotel accesses more than 2,800 hotels globally that operate within the luxury segment. To explore the API that Bonotel suggests, you should contact the supplier directly.
Destinations of the World API
DOTW is a wholesale provider that aggregates room availability in about 160,000 hotels and apartments and covers more than 10,000 destinations globally. While DOTW operates in all major destinations, it’s major focus is considered to be Asia. So, if you plan to emphasize such countries as the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, this supplier should be the first to explore. What kinds of features does the API suggest?
- Hotel info (location and description)
- Booking info exchange (dates of stay, tourists, number of rooms)
- Pricing info
- Booking requests and booking cancellations
- Sending order comments
- Printing vouchers
HomeAway is an alternative travel OTA that connects travelers with house owners in about 190 countries. The service accessed about 2 million homes worldwide. Like Airbnb, HomeAway focuses on single-property owners rather than hotels and chains. And they have a set of APIs that allow OTAs to leverage their home supply and features:
- Search homes
- Get home listings
- Reserve homes and get quotes
- Establish direct chat communication between homeowners and travelers
- Submit traveler property reviews
Interestingly, Airbnb provides an API for property owners only who want to employ Airbnb booking capacities.
Hotel rooms from connectivity and channel managers: APIs and services from Dhisco, DerbySoft, and SiteConnect
Main users: OTAs, metasearch engines, travel application providers, property owners
Connectivity providers are technical B2B players that connect property owners like hotels and hotel chains with booking services like OTAs and metasearch engines. Their niche strength is in making these connections smooth as hotel property management systems and OTA APIs may have different standards applied. Thus, establishing direct connections for data exchange may be a hurdle. For example, if you want your hotel to be visible in multiple OTA listings and to make your property data displayed on these OTAs correctly, you must comply with each individual API requirement. And as the number of platforms you want to be presented on grows, so does the amount of engineering effort spent on integration.
Instead of manually making all connections work, you can apply to these mediator services. OTAs, on the other hand, also benefit from this partnership as they grow room supply availability. We’ve picked three such providers to check. The first two don’t have openly available API documentation, which can be obtained upon a direct request.
Dhisco: connectivity solutions
Dhisco is a global connectivity provider that enables one-to-many distribution of hotel rooms connecting main OTAs, travel agencies, metasearch engines, and GDSs with hotel chains. Currently, the service has access to over 100,000 properties. What does Dhisco have to offer?
- Switch service: They have XML APIs for hotel search and booking.
- Shop service: This returns data on hotel rooms with such specific details as hotel policy details, room types, and child-specific rates
- Cache service: Cache is an additional service to reduce response time for transactions by moving popular transactions to the cache. The company claims to provide timely updates to the cached rooms.
- Content service: The package is aimed at better content distribution by providing actual room information, transforming industry terms into plain language, and facilitating multilanguage supply.
DerbySoft: connectivity APIs for different types of travel businesses
DerbySoft ships its connectivity solutions in multiple bundles to address the needs of different supplier-distributor models.
- Click: connection services for metasearch engines and hoteliers that want to increase direct bookings without OTA intermediary fees
- Build: a connectivity platform to establish links between the largest OTAs and the largest hotel groups
- Go: a platform like Build, but aimed at much smaller businesses such as midsize suppliers, regional businesses, and startup distributors
SiteConnect API by SiteMinder
SiteMinder is one of the largest channel management providers for hotels. It allows hoteliers to connect their properties to the leading OTAs and GDSs via the cloud interface, increase direct bookings, and analyze performance.
While their packages can be extremely useful for hotels that strive for market visibility, SiteMinder also has SiteConnect API that mostly addresses OTAs and other end-user providers. So, it provides
- Room retrieval (available rooms and rates)
- Inventory (rooms and dates)
Content and Property Mapping APIs: GIATA, Gimmonix, and Leonardo
Main users: OTAs, metasearch engines, travel applications providers, hotels
Scrupulous destination research is what defines the booking experience for many travelers. They want to know how their accommodation will look, what the surroundings are, and they may want to compare offers from different tour operators. Content APIs will help address this demand.
Another challenge is proper information mapping, creating a coherent properties database with specific IDs and labels assigned to destinations, hotels, room types, and package types. So, if you’re looking for efficient content and mapping solutions, check these providers.
GIATA API. GIATA connects to about 500 content providers like tour operators and travel agency chains. Their XML interface addresses various content searches, from images and videos to comparing tour operators and their offers. Also, the GIATA interface allows for mapping properties on all levels.
Gimmonix Mapping.Works APIs. Mapping.Works is a set of APIs that help both property owners and OTAs map their inventories. The provider employs ML-based text analysis to extract meaning from various inventory descriptions and operates on two levels of mapping: hotel mapping and room mapping.
Leonardo APIs. Leonardo connects media content in over 100,000 properties globally. The company bundles its services both for OTAs and hotels allowing these groups of travel players to better manage media data.
TripAdvisor Content API. The API allows for retrieving information on accommodation, restaurants, and attractions, including such details as location IDs, property names, addresses, longitude and latitude.
Car Rentals: Rentalcars.com by Priceline and CarTrawler Integration to Reach the Largest Car Rental Pools
Main users: OTAs, travel applications providers, hotels, airlines
As you’ve noticed, multiple players on the market are bundling their services with car rentals. GDS systems and main OTAs already support car rentals.
Rentalcars.com is currently the largest provider in the sphere owned by Priceline. If you look at embedding car rental support only into your website, it’s worth considering their services as Rentalcars works across about 48,000 locations around the world in 163 countries.
Rentalcars offers two main options: 1) put a customizable banner on your website, 2) become Rentalcars Connect partner and then leverage available technology through the API. The first option obviously isn’t an API and eventually, your users will be landing on Rentalcars.com to complete their reservation.
The second option, on the other hand, isn’t limited to a single API. The connect partners can utilize full-blown Rentalcars product integration and services including dynamic widgets, search panels, etc.
CarTrawler is a fully B2B service that connects travel agents, travel retailers (OTAs), and international airlines with local car rental suppliers. Currently, the company operates in 43,500 locations in 190 countries.
Business travel: travel management and planning APIs from Concur to track expenses and integrate itineraries
Main users: applications providers that target business travelers, OTAs
The main player in the business travel market is Concur. The company offers a cloud-based travel management platform that helps businesses manage trips, track travel expenses, book flight seats, hotel rooms, and rent cars.
Concur strives to engage the development community in building and incorporating their applications with Concur business profiles. How does this work? Concur API aims at two main use cases:
Travel and itinerary support for business travelers. As business travelers book hotels and flights through providers’ apps, their travel data synchronizes with a Concur traveler profile. For instance, if a user has a business trip flying United Airlines, he or she may connect a United MileagePlus profile to Concur to make business trip reservations straight from the United Airlines Website. This way, all business trip data is sent directly to Concur.
Expense Management. All payments that business travelers make during their trips are automatically synchronized with a Concur profile to track expenses or pay from a corporate bank account. Uber, for instance, has integrated Concur for these purposes.
Concur integration into the Uber app. Image credit: Uber
All apps that have Concur API integration are featured in the dedicated App Center that Concur clients use.
Tripit is another product by Concur which doesn’t limit its target audience to business travelers only and aims at all types of users. The system consolidates a user’s travel data like hotel, flight, and restaurant confirmations and turns it into a neatly organized itinerary. Travelers can see what’s coming next and what they should do.
Tripit API works pretty much the same as the main Concur API. For instance, it allows for embedding an “Add to Tripit” link on the travel booking confirmation page of your website or adding Tripit travel plans to a website or applications, enabling users to configure itineraries through Tripit without leaving your resource.
Reviews and ratings: TripAdvisor Content API for social proof
Main users: OTAs, hotels, travel applications providers
Just recently, we’ve covered best UX practices in booking and reservations websites. One of the main points is that 70 percent of people must look at about 20 reviews before they book travel or accommodation services online. This social proof is hard to achieve with your own reviews system if you are a hotel, for instance, or another property provider. But TripAdvisor is a trusted source containing over 200 million reviews.
TripAdvisor Content API allows businesses to incorporate the main content types that the service collects from its users and update them in real time. TripAdvisor works with accommodations, restaurants, and attractions providing the following types of content through their API:
- Location ID
- Name and address
- Latitude and longitude
- Reading and creating reviews (basically, users will be able to leave reviews through your website or app)
- Ratings and awards (TripAdvisor ranking, subratings, the number of reviews the rating is based on, etc.)
- Categories and subcategories (price level, accommodation category, attraction type, restaurants, and cuisine).
Public transportation: APIs to support the get-around experience
Main users: global and local travel applications providers
Not all travelers rent cars. And with the recent trend of making cities more pedestrian-friendly, especially in Europe, the use of public transport is a big part of the travel experience. As we mentioned, Uber has its own API to incorporate the “request the ride” function into third-party applications. Today the API is used in such familiar products as Google Maps, Transit App, and TripAdvisor. What about public transport APIs? There are multiple options to consider.
Embedding Google Maps is quite common today. The Google APIs are open, well-documented, and widely used across industries. However, Google also provides APIs for tracking public transport routes and schedules.
General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). The API is used both by applications providers and – very important – transit agencies that share public transport data to let users instantly configure their get-around experience. This API sends static only data, which means users can see schedules and routes, but can’t track disruptions.
GTFS Realtime. As the name clearly states, this extension to the main service aims at providing real-time data coming from transit agencies about delays and schedule changes.
While this sounds great, you can’t expect it to work in the lion’s share of locations around the world. So, if you build apps and want to deliver extra value with real-time public transport updates, it’s worth considering local alternatives.
Local APIs from owners and consortiums
You can expect to find decent APIs from companies operating in your target regions. While the quality and standards alignment of these APIs varies, they can provide real-time updates and even additional information like availability of car sharing or bikes near a railway station. Some examples of these are APIs from Dutch Railways and French National Railways, that update in real time about disruptions and engineering work.
Sometimes the APIs are born as a result of a consortium of data owners and reusers. One such example is OpenTripPlanner, the API providing in-depth understanding of city transportation.
Things to Do, Tours, Attractions, and Restaurants: APIs from OTAs to Provide Travelers with Attractions Visibility
Main users: OTAs, local travel providers, travel applications providers
There are two main sources for finding attractions and things to do for your customers. These are 1) local services like London Theatre API and 2) larger vendors that aggregate and share data combined with ticket purchasing support.
Ticketmaster APIs. Ticketmaster is the largest events booking provider on the market. It covers concerts, festivals, plays, and sports events across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, other European countries, and more. The service claims to reach about 230, 000 events worldwide. Back in 2016, it released multiple APIs to let third parties embed the Ticketmaster events search and booking support into their products. There are two main ways you can work with Ticketmaster APIs:
- Use Discovery API and Commerce API only. This is aimed solely at an information search. You will be able to source events, filter them by location, type, and retrieve images.
- Use Partner API on top of the Discovery and Commerce ones. This one allows your customers to directly book from your resource, but you’ll have to enroll in the Ticketmaster affiliate program.
Ingresso TicketSwitch API. The product has rich coverage for events, seating availability, and supports ticket purchasing and reservations. Ingresso sources ticket data and sends reservations directly through venue ticketing systems, which ensures real-time updates. The API is used by Amazon Tickets.
Expedia Things to Do. We mentioned Expedia Public APIs. This is one of them. The API needs time and location requests to return results of the upcoming events. In case the time isn’t defined the system will retrieve events for the nearest 14 days for the given location. As all Expedia Public APIs, this one is purely informational and won’t allow your customers to book tickets for these events.
Viator APIs. Viator is a tours and activities (T&A) agency acquired by TripAdvisor in 2014. The OTA accesses about 60 thousand activities and tours around the world, including unconventional ones (e.g. “real Prague, a 3-hour tour to see the reverse side of the city”). The APIs are shipped in two versions: merchant solutions that allow for selling tours directly and an affiliate program where the end merchant is Viator.
Getyourguide. This is another T&A OTA that accesses about 32 thousand activities in more than 7 thousand destinations. Getyourguide’s power side is linking specific attractions and activities with the locally related ones. For instance, Manhattan cruises will be linked with Empire State Building visits. If you’re a local travel provider, the service requires you to have live-streaming T&A availability.
Klook. Klook is a T&A provider that mostly focuses on Asian tours with destinations ranging from China and Shanghai to Japan and Singapore. The company suggests OTAs enroll in an affiliate program and get access to the T&A database via either a graphical interface or an API.
Musement Transactional API. Musement is a wide-range T&A platform that combines attractions, tours, nightlife activities, local food and wine places, sports+, and music events. The API service provides access to more than 5 thousand deals in 300 cities in 60 countries around the world. The API allows you to embed transactions support in your applications.
Tiqets API. Tiqets is an agency that focuses on digital distribution of museum and attraction tickets. The API allows for retrieving tickets in specified locations and searching the nearest tickets.
Ceetiz. Ceetiz is a T&A provider that aims at both B2C and B2B markets. Currently, the service mostly focuses on partnerships between various travel providers that work with end travelers and want to enhance their existing services with T&A supply.
OpenTable Affiliate Program. The main option for those who want to add restaurant table booking is to apply for the OpenTable affiliate program. It will allow you to source all OpenTable options, but users will still have to book through OpenTable.com. Once you reach over 100 monthly reservations as an affiliate, you will be able to leverage revenue-sharing opportunities. However, not all applicants are becoming partners. That’s why there’s an unofficial OpenTable API. It supports the same set of data and doesn’t require to contact OpenTable directly.
Packaged travel and T&A APIs from channel managers
Main users: OTAs, local travel providers, travel applications providers
Like hotels, T&A supply isn’t limited to what OTAs suggest. While their offer may be enough, there are also niche companies that specialize in connecting travel agents with suppliers, suggesting interfaces, APIs, or both options to configure and source tours. On top of that, these services allow for configuring custom travel packages that include T&A, accommodation, and even car rentals.
Bokun API. Bokun is a tourism reseller platform that partly operates as a marketplace where local travel providers and property owners connect with OTAs and agents. In addition, the service provides channel management services. And their API allows travel agencies to request:
- car rentals
- shopping cart
This set of features enables configuring custom travel packages via the API interface.
Trekksoft API. Trekksoft focuses solely on tours and activities. The company provides graphical interfaces for local T&A providers and tourism offices. And their API can be configured to supply resellers with all available T&A, including booking capacities.
Redzy API. Redzy is another T&A service for channel management that connects suppliers with travel agents and travel agencies. The API is also divided into two categories: supplier or OTA. Currently, the API can also be used for bundling packages as it provides access to:
- Car rentals
- Shuttle buses
Rezgo API. While Rezgo may look like a common T&A channel management solution, it provides an open source front-end booking engine and an open source parser. However, to use API you should have a paid Rezgo account. The API is dedicated to building T&A booking solutions that don’t exceed 4000 requests per hour.
How to Choose the Right Travel API
We’ve covered just the tip of the available travel APIs iceberg to provide you with basic information on integration capabilities that the travel community shares. So, regardless of whether you use one of the products mentioned above or look for something specific, there are general recommendations for choosing a suitable API for your travel business.
- Look at popularity. Programmableweb suggests looking at Google Trends to understand how popular the product is. Popularity isn’t only a proof of quality but also the foundation for a community that builds around a product. The more developers using the API, the more pitfalls your team will be able to resolve through communication with fellow engineers. Another good sign is a dedicated forum letting developers discuss issues there.
- Check API marketplaces. The travel API market is already a large one, and there are dedicated marketplaces emerging. For instance, Yappes, one of such platforms, provides an interface to search and evaluate some popular APIs available. Currently, it has around 60 travel APIs, both public and private. The service is in Beta, but according to Rajagopal Somasundaram, CTO and co-founder at Yappes, the platform has a potential to become “the largest aggregator of the Travel APIs and a platform which provides seamless Discovery and Distribution of Travel related APIs. This will be achieved by providing API Discovery, API Creation & Hosting, API Distribution and Deal Rooms (License/Price/Terms&Conditions Negotiations)”.
- Evaluate documentation. Look for an elaborate documentation with FAQs. Some providers don’t showcase the documentation upfront, requiring additional contracts. If the documentation is not public, make sure that you’ll be able to play with a demo. Expedia, for instance, allows you to try its public APIs right in the documentation section.
- Check for standards compliance. Even though an API may provide a great feature list and functionality, ensure that your developers have checked the main REST and SOAP standards compliance.
- Consider customization. How customizable is the API or a set of them? Must you use the entire bundle or you can choose specific data records that you want to retrieve? FlightStats, Sabre, and Amadeus APIs are well recognized for their customization potential.
- Notice limitations. These may be regional, language, or partnership-related limitations. Most owners provide this information asking you to contact their support teams or describe what kinds of limitations are there.
- Consider additional APIs for specific tasks. Don’t settle for conventional API services only. Valentin Dombrovsky from Travelabs recommends “being always on the outlook for opportunities on the market – sometimes 3rd party APIs and solutions can help in solving the problems that you have tried to solve yourself for a long time. For instance, there are companies like Sift Science or Spreedly tacking quite specific needs for fraud prevention and smooth payments. Sometimes you can find solutions for your part of the industry like Mapping.Works for those who work with multiple suppliers of hotel inventory or AirGateway for those who need a solution to work with IATA’s NDC protocol.”
As the world and the travel industry grows increasingly more connected, application programming interfaces and the right approach to working with them define whether you source the right data and eventually deliver enough value to your customers.